43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
One of the best books I have read in a very long time...,
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This review is from: The Girl Under the Olive Tree (Hardcover)
The Girl under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming for me was not only a fantastic book of fiction but the author showed through her wonderful descriptive writing what life was really like for the occupants of the island of Crete during the era of the Second World War.
The main character of the book is Penny a spirited young girl from Cheltenham whose mother has tried her best to turn into a lady but Penny has fought against her wishes as she is happiest when we meet her in 1936 in the mountains of Scotlands where the author is showing what kind of girl Penny really is.
The book first opens in 1941 in Crete as the sound of gunfire fills the air while the German army who will soon be the occupying force fall from the sky as they are parachuted in. There is one good man among the Germans who will be one of the main characters and his name is Rainer and he will become a part of Penny's life in the most unsuspecting way.
We then go back to the present day in 2001 sixty years from the battle when the Germans first entered Crete and Pen is now a retired nurse and her niece Lois wants to take Pen on a holiday to Crete to celebrate her 85th birthday. But Pen is reluctant to go as she knows she will have to face the past she has tried so hard to bury far back in the crevices of her mind. This holiday brings back many memories and as she remembers she narrates her own story of her time in Athens before she lands in Crete and the separate adventures which take her there..
Though this is a book of fiction, one of the reasons why I loved reading this masterpiece so much was with each turn of the page I felt I was physically in Crete as the descriptions were so open and vivid I could see the beauty of the island through the author's words which with so much clarity she painted the scenes she seen through her words. It was clear through her writing her love for the island of Crete and its people.
As the hidden secrets are spilled along with the memories of Penny, Yolanda we also have the memories of Rainer Brecht who is not like all the other Germans who are only happy when they are dealing pain but who has a conscience but has also fell for Penny and will enter her life in the most unsuspected way and play a main part of this wonderful book.
Another reason why this book was one of my favourites as not only has the author written a book in which the constant pace of the storyline did not slow at any time I was totally addicted to the adventures of the characters but for the first time I fully understand why Crete was so important to Hitler and why Germany wanted to control it. I now understand why the Cretans fought for their land the way they did, and how the hills which stand so proud in the background hold so much history within its caves and how those who fled from the German's would rather hide in cold caves and risk death by cold, starvation etc. than face the death camps. How there was those who laid down their lives for their homeland because they loved the island so much and what the actual history of this holiday island really meant to this proud island of people. The book indeed was a work of fiction but its historical detail was excellent and I learned so much from reading it.
I highly recommend The Girl Under the Olive Tree by Leah Fleming as not only a wonderful read but one which will keep you reading until you find out what become of Penny and all those she has met on her many adventures. But you will also see an Island which has suffered under the hand of man while its heritage was destroyed all on the name of Power and greed.
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Initial post: 15 Sep 2014, 12:28:58 BST
your review was nearly as long as the book....was all that INFO NECESSARY ?
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